Duterte blames Yolanda on industrialized nations, belittles US aid

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 17 2016 04:39 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a meeting with banana production businessmen in Davao city, in southern Philippines, October 7, 2016. Lean Daval Jr, Reuters

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte demeaned the assistance that the United States extended to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon ''Yolanda'' in 2013, arguing that the calamity was caused by climate-warming emissions from industrialized nations.

Duterte made the remark in an Al Jazeera interview released Monday, where he confirmed a potential cease to defense treaties, including military exercises, with Washington because he does “not think they will be there for us” in times of need. 

The President’s pronouncement prompted interviewer Wayne Hay to quip: “But they were there in Haiyan (Yolanda) just a few years ago.” 

In response, Duterte belittled the calamity aid, saying “If they want, you can forgo with it. Other nations will come. Or we will die, double the number.” 

Besides, he added that the super typhoon, which killed over 7,000 people in the central islands, was a product of the global warming phenomenon generated by the carbon emissions of industrial countries.

“Haiyan is just a creation of climate change, which the industrial countries also created,” he added. 

Duterte also insisted that the Philippines, with its relatively small carbon footprint, cannot be blamed for the changing climate patterns. 

“You have reached the heights of industrialization. All these years, you have been spewing all the gas, carbon and everything. We had little or nothing to do with it,” he said. 

“We have this guy, 'we'd like to help you but do not try to catch up with us and overtake us because it will contribute so much carbon emission.' And who's responsible for the climate? Who's responsible for Haiyan? Who's responsible for the monsters of tornado? It's industrialized countries. We had nothing to do with it.” 

The US was one of the first countries to send aid to the Philippines in the wake of Yolanda, the strongest typhoon on record. 

It is also the Philippines' only treaty ally. The 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty binds the two countries to "defend themselves against external armed attack."

The US-Philippine alliance, however, has been strained since Washington raised the alarm on the piling body count in Manila’s drug war, prompting Duterte to unleash a string of verbal attacks. 

While criticizing the US, Duterte has signaled building ties with Washington's foes Beijing and Moscow. This, despite the Philippines and China sparring over the resource-rich South China Sea.